Etyen Mahçupyan in Karar writes that it is obvious that ISIS has an understanding of Islam that leads it to see Turkey as an enemy, and that it intends to incite such an Islamic understanding inside Turkey. But at the same time, it is also clear that ISIS does not want to wholly be at odds with Turkey. Ultimately, it wants to be accepted as a force to bargain with in Syria and Iraq. Thus, even though they don’t hinder uncontrolled acts and though they may even resort to using violence as part of a strategy of “warning,” they have to get along with Turkey, insofar as they want to be a permanent force to reckon with in the region. The PKK’s position is no different. It’s easy to declare cantons (in Syria) when a war is raging, but much more difficult to sustain these when peace arrives… It’s obvious that you cannot categorically trust the U.S., Russia or Germany. In other words, when we pass on to the next stage in Syria, Turkey’s view of an eventual Kurdish entity is going to be a crucial factor… And what is at least as critical as this factor is the fact that the PKK runs the risk of alienating its sociological base in Turkey if it escalates the violence. In short, the two terror groups that Turkey is facing are in fact in need of Turkey’s “acceptance…” We can predict that both organizations are going to want to resort to violence in order to bring Turkey to the point that they desire, but that they at the end of the day are going to want to keep Turkey by their sides. As a new table is being set in Syria, the number of groups that would like to have violence in Turkey is thus decreasing, not increasing.
Soli Özel in Habertürk observes that the reaction of the Turkish public to the March 13 terror attack in Ankara has been different, that unlike after previous attacks, panic has spread. Larger society didn’t care much after the first Ankara attack (on October 10, 2015) because those who were killed were Kurds and leftists. Similarly, the second Ankara attack (on February 17, 2016) didn’t either lead to any panic in society because it was understood to be an attack mostly against the state. The January 12 attack in Sultanahmet (in Istanbul) was not either taken too seriously as the victims were “foreigners,” while people in the central, northern and western parts of the country view the physical and human destruction wrought by the ongoing war in the cities in the southeast as legitimate punishment of an “ungrateful” population. In none of these instances, was there any direct impact on the “normal” individuals of society. Now, with the latest Ankara massacre, the daily lives and routines of ordinary citizens were targeted, and that has made larger society angry. Its first reflex is going to be to call for more violence from the state, as if the state hadn’t already amply demonstrated its capability to be violent.
Fatih Yaşlı in Birgün writes that at first glance, the terror attack in Ankara on March 13 would appear to have been “wrong and a mistake” from the view point of PKK, which has also been pointed out by leftist circles that are close to the Kurdish movement. These make the point that the massacre in Ankara circumscribes the political room of maneuver of the leftist-democrat forces in the west of the country and that it has undermined the position of those who call for a democratic and peaceful resolution of the Kurdish problem. What this criticism overlooks is the fact that the dynamics of war has changed since the state abandoned the “solution process”, and that the PKK – in response to the state violence that has been escalating since then – no longer gives priority to forcing a solution with “democratic” methods. Instead, PKK is spreading the war in the Kurdish areas to the rest of the country. As war has become the way of conducting politics, it leads to new alignments: MHP edges closer to the government, while CHP’s statist reflexes are triggered and the party’s discourse becomes similar to that of the governing party. And we know who’s going to benefit from that. Unfortunately, we can expect that the worst is yet to come, lest the two sides are bluffing, which they don’t seem to be doing. When the “spring war” intensifies, attacks like these are going to become routine, and with growing polarization in society, there will follow an increased risk that civilians are going to take on each other directly.
Kadri Gürsel on Diken news site notes that the Turkish regime has vowed to fight the war to the end. I guess what they mean by this is that the war is going to continue until PKK has been finished off. Those who haven’t lost their minds will realize that trying to finish the Kurdish problem with military means in 2016 will amount to finishing off Turkey. But while a military solution is not possible, what about a political solution? Is that possible? Let alone a political solution, not even a secretly or openly negotiated cease-fire with PKK is possible when someone’s priority is a “presidential system.” For how could a cease-fire with PKK be explained to the nationalist and conservative voters who will have to be courted in a coming referendum to amend the constitution? It could only work if PKK surrendered during 2016, and there are no signs of this happening. On the contrary, PKK is vowing to “overthrow Erdoğan.” The regime is unable to solve this historical crisis which has erupted only as a result of its own policies, either militarily or politically.
The Turkey Analyst is a publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Joint Center, designed to bring authoritative analysis and news on the rapidly developing domestic and foreign policy issues in Turkey. It includes topical analysis, as well as a summary of the Turkish media debate.